The Washington Post has published a trove of documents that reveal a secret history of the war in Afghanistan. In candid interviews, senior U.S. officials and others directly involved in the war effort criticized how the government and its military mishandled the conflict over 18 years, detailing the numerous mistakes, flawed strategies and rampant corruption that have characterized the fight. In the documents, U.S. officials acknowledged they failed to tell the public the truth about the war.

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015 — voicing criticisms shared by scores of others.

The interviews were conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR. The Post obtained the documents through two lawsuits.

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